MUMBAI: Panic-stricken customers of the PMC bank has led two deaths and one suicide as yet.
After Sanjay Gulati (51), an engineer with Jet Airways who had lost job a few months back, died of heart attack on Monday, Fattomal Punjabi (59) a Mulund based furniture shop owner too died of a massive heart attack on Tuesday noon. In the evening, Dr Yogita Bijlani (39), who held an account with PMC Bank, ended her life at her father’s Andheri home.
Bijlani, who lived in the US, is survived by her husband, 17-year-old daughter and an 18-month-old baby. She had savings upwards of Rs 1 crore in the bank, said Varsova police.
In March 2018, Bijlani had attempted suicide in Columbia, US.
“Her husband is to arrive from the US on Wednesday and we will speak with him. But as of now, her death does not appear to be linked to the PMC Bank scam,” said zonal DCP Paramjeet Singh Dahiya.
Earlier on Tuesday, Punjabi, who ran a small furniture shop and had an account with the PMC bank’s Mulund branch, died of a massive heart attack at 12.30 noon as he was on his way to bank to withdraw money.
He must have had around Rs 8-10 lakh in current account and a couple of FDs, said his elder brother Deepak.
“He had a massive heart attack as he left home to go to the bank. He was immediately rushed to the Gokul hospital nearby, but was declared ‘dead on arrival’,” he added.
Punjabi is survived by son Vikas (32) and daughter Geeta Sunil Vishwani (38). His wife had died earlier this year in March.
Punjabi had taken part in protests in the last few days as he was facing financial troubles because of the curbs placed on withdrawals by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Deepak said.
On Monday, Sanjay Gulati, a resident of Taporewala Gardens of Western Mumbai suburb of Oshiwara and customer of the PMC bank, had died of a heart attack.
He had gone to the protest along with his 80-year-old father and suffered a heart attack hours after he attended a protest by distressed customers outside a Mumbai court.
The 51-year-old engineer was with Jet Airways and had lost job a few months back. He died from heart attack after being unable to withdraw his life savings of Rs 90 lakh from the bank, his friends said.
On Tuesday evening, aggrieved depositors led a candle march inside Sanjay Gulati’s housing complex in Oshiwara. They raised chants of “Sanjay Gulati amar rahe” and demanded that the Central government make good their losses as it had recently received Rs 1.8 lakh crore from RBI. When Congressman Sanjay Nirupam arrived to commiserate, organizers said they wanted it to be a non-political demonstration.
Komal Panjwani, from the Sachkhand Durbar Gurudwara near Punjabi’s residence said that almost 95 per cent of the people residing in Mulund colony have accounts in the PMC bank and were facing troubles due to the RBI curbs on withdrawal.
“It is mentally torturous every time the RBI increases the limit of withdrawal. All of us have to stand in queue to get our money back. First they said that only Rs 1,000 can be withdrawn. Then they slowly increased the limit to Rs 5,000, then Rs 10,000 and last night they said that now Rs 40,000 can be withdrawn. It is a harassment,” she said.
Sachi Pestonji, an acquaintance of Gulati and a PMC account holder, expressed concern over the deaths and said that this may just be the beginning of tragedies.
The PMC Bank was placed under restrictions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) after it fraudulently extended loans to Housing Development & Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL).
Worried depositors of the bank, which has deposits of over Rs 11,000 crore, have been protesting across the city, and also forced Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to meet them last week when she was out to address a pre-election media conference here.
Four people, including promoters of realty firm HDIL to which the bank made the sour loans, and the lender's former chairman and ex-managing director have so far been arrested in connection with the alleged Rs 4,355 crore scam.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, while commenting on the crisis, said that his government is following up with the centre to help depositors get their money back.
“I will personally be following up on this,” he had said.